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Brian Wigman
Classical Net, October 2015

…Vividly recorded and beautifully played, there is at least another disc of these Hummel arrangements coming from Naxos, and I can only say that I can’t wait. Hummel…is chiefly concerned with dynamics and phrasing. The results are startlingly effective, as Mozart’s music gains both an intimacy and immediacy with smaller forces. The drama is heightened, and the underlying tension that would dominate the Romantic period is even more evident than before. © 2015 Classical Net Read complete review

Raymond Tuttle
Fanfare, July 2014

This is Mozart in a more social, more polite guise, but it is no less enjoyable. Rather than acquiring yet another recording of these works in their original versions, listeners who love this music might enjoy hearing them as they are performed here. In fact, I feel quite certain that they will. Recommended. © 2014 Fanfare Read complete review

Dvorák Society Newsletter, April 2014

Uwe Grodd and his team are obvious enthusiasts and their lively musical accounts provide much enjoyment. Theirs is unique in the coupling of symphonies, is at budget price and offers seventy five minutes of music. Much recommended and hopefully the start of a series. © 2014 Dvořák Society Newsletter

John Sheppard
MusicWeb International, March 2014

It would be easy for an unimaginative arranger for the chosen combination of flute, violin, cello and piano simply to base their versions on what Mozart gave to those instruments in the original versions, distributing what would otherwise be omitted amongst them and the piano. That is not what Hummel does. He rethinks the music for the new combination, whilst carefully ensuring that the pianist has the lion’s share of the music.

The performances here are enthusiastic and fluent, making the most of Hummel’s rethinking of the music…I suspect that more may be learnt about these symphonies from listening to this disc that from acquiring yet another recording of the original versions. © 2014 MusicWeb International Read complete review, March 2014

No matter how well one knows Mozart’s Symphonies Nos 38, 39 and 40, it is unlikely that he or she is familiar with the Hummel arrangements that are quite wonderfully performed by Uwe Grodd, Friedemann Eichhorn, Martin Rummel and Roland Krüger on…[this] CD. Krüger takes the lead here—Hummel, a superb pianist himself, gave most of the thematic material to the piano—but these arrangements give plenty of scope to the other instruments as well. And they are not “mere” arrangements: Hummel inserted new accent patterns and changed some of the dynamics of the symphonies to try to bring out characteristics that he considered particularly significant. This is a disc that will send listeners back to the orchestral versions of the symphonies with a new understanding of what Mozart created and a new appreciation of his original instrumentation—a state of affairs of which Hummel would surely have approved. © 2014 Read complete review

Rainer Aschemeier
The Listener, March 2014

Pleasing interpretations of symphony arrangements that are pure genius!

Uwe Grodd has been part of the furniture at Naxos for decades. He has released great recordings on the label, particularly as a conductor of Viennese Classical works. Many people have no idea that he is also a professional flautist, even though he studied flute alongside conducting in Mainz and has pursued careers as a soloist and as a conductor with equal commitment up to the present day.

Many of the albums to which he has contributed are among the hot tips in the Naxos catalogue. But his latest album is a veritable coup!

Johann Nepomuk Hummel was the only one of Mozart’s pupils to have been granted a successful career as a soloist and as a composer after he had completed his apprenticeship to the Viennese master. When the elderly Haydn came to suggest someone to succeed him at the  Esterházy court, Hummel was his first choice. After Mozart’s death, Hummel pursued his studies with Salieri, and he was bound to Beethoven in a problematic friendship freighted with competitive posturing as well.

Wow! So why ever hasn’t Hummel’s music been far better known and more often heard for a long time? After all, there are quite a few recordings of his works.

Well, it’s probably because Hummel was quite happy to be a successor to Mozart (in the same way as, for example, Ferdinand Ries remained essentially an imitator of Beethoven to the last). Hummel wasn’t a trailblazer driving forward the development of the musical genres of his day, and he seems to have had no interest in being seen as a revolutionary in the music world.

And so, right up to the present day, we have been told one thing above all about Johann Nepomuk Hummel: Simply wonderfully beautiful music, but lacking that certain something that we – spoilt, narrow-minded, and often inappropriately demanding – nowadays positively expect of the composers who were Mozart’s successors.

This new Naxos album demonstrates what an accomplished composer Johann Nepomuk Hummel was. And that is nowhere more obvious than in these arrangements of three great late Mozart symphonies, which are universally regarded as masterpieces of the classical repertoire. Hummel proves here what a genius he had for instrumentation, and what astounding tricks he was capable of to make a four-person chamber ensemble sound as full-bodied as if it were a genuine chamber orchestra.

That in the process Hummel was not beyond changing the musical substance of Mozart’s scores occasionally, making little alterations and adding his own emphases here and there, points less to a lack of respect than to amazing mastery, and a degree of personal enterprise. Anyone who has heard an arrangement that simply reduces the forces without a bit of ingenious compositional help knows how colourless such transcriptions can sound.

Here things are totally different: Hummel has managed to retain the luminosity and visionary aura of Mozart’s symphonies by not so much transcribing the pieces as translating them for the forces of flute, violin, cello and piano.

Anyone who thinks that is easy knows nothing about the immense demands of good instrumentation and respectful musical interpretation.

And this album demonstrates, perhaps more than recordings of Hummel’s own compositions, what genius we are dealing with. But such consumate ability demands a congenial performance.

With Uwe Grodd (flute), Friedemann Eichhorn (violin), Martin Rummel (cello) and Roland Krüger (piano) coming together, we have here a quartet that gives an absolutely inspiring performance of this music – here it’s not just technical perfection that counts, but above all the kind of deeply felt playing that is now seldom heard. And so this recording can take on any really good orchestral interpretation any day, and it is bound to come out well.

Given that balance engineer Erich Pintar has produced an album that also boasts good sound quality, I dare to hope that this superb team will follow up this top-notch album with Hummel’s other Mozart arrangements. There’s still the transcription of the “Jupiter” Symphony for the same forces, and several arrangements of piano concertos for chamber ensembles. I admit that just thinking about it gets me excited! © 2014 The Listener

David Denton
David's Review Corner, February 2014

Following on the death of Haydn, Mozart and Beethoven, Johann Nepomuk Hummel became the last living member in the line of great Viennese composers. That he is now regarded as a rather minor figure is largely due to the geniuses that surrounded him, for he was an honest kapellmeister who had studied with Mozart. It was the improved travelling facilities that took him on extended tours around Europe, spreading his name to an extent never enjoyed by his now famous predecessors. The Mozart symphonies were just one of his ‘labours of love’ in deference to his respect of his mentor, the three famous works gathered together here being scored for piano, flute, violin and cello. The performances are very convincing, the outer movements taken more quickly than you will normally hear in symphonic performances. Now once again available in printed copy, they will make a desirable addition to the repertoire of talented amateurs as well as professional groups. © 2014 David’s Review Corner

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